The typical entrepreneur may be reluctant to listen to anything that has business and the government in the same sentence. However, when you think about all of the money that has been turned over to this huge entity, why not take a little of it back? Qualifying as a small business concern can open doors that were once closed to only the big players in government contracts, and now is the perfect time to learn the ropes.
There are hundreds of companies on the Internet that promise to deliver government contracts for a fee. Most of these for profit sites are scams and should be avoided. They will take your money and leave you with no more than a little investigating, that you could have done yourself. If you are intimidated by the whole idea of getting started with bidding and winning Federal contracts, here are a few ways to make the process more enticing:
The Small Business Administration website is a wealth of information and training programs for learning the basics of government contracting. Qualifying for bidding, responsibilities of contracts, creating a business plan, and much more, can be found on their new and improved site. The Federal Government has made great strides in getting small business more involved in providing them with necessary products and services so you will find tons of reading and videos available.
One of the fastest and easiest ways to get the inside scoop on what is involved in Government contracts, is to partner up with another company that already has experience in the field. It can also make all of the record-keeping and mounds of paperwork simpler for the beginner. For instance, if you provide cleaning supplies to companies, buddy up with a company that has a government contract for janitorial services. They will show you what types of information is needed for them to purchase from you on a regular basis, according to government specifications.
How to Get Started
There are certain steps that need to be taken in order for the Federal Government to recognize your company as a potential bidder. Here are some items that will need to be obtained:
NAICS stands for North American Industry Classification System and determines the category of products or services you have to offer. The government provides a complete list of codes for every item or service used on a yearly basis. Visit http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/ to find your specialty code.
DUNS stands for Data Universal Numbering System. This is a 9-digit number assigned to each physical location that bids on government contracts. It is used for identifying business entities, provides payment histories and can benefit businesses on a worldwide scale. Visit http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform for more information on how to file.
System for Award Management is the registration process that brings your company to the forefront of the selective bidding process. If you have a unique position, such as a small- business entity, woman-owned, minority, or qualify for Veteran status, plus many others, this is where you will discover how to make this known. There are a couple of steps that will need to be taken, here, but you can get started by visiting https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/.
Preparation in Bidding
As with good food, don't let your eyes get larger than your stomach when searching for the perfect bid. You may find a contract that sounds perfect for your business, turning $200,000 per year, but stop right there. Remember that you will putting up money for the first 30-60 days before payment begins. In addition, any contract valued at $150,000, requires a surety bond. Determine what the upfront costs are going to be and make sure that they are readily available. Going into a government contract on a shoestring, can cause you to default, for lack of funds, and blow your chance.
Surety bonds guarantee that the contract will be fulfilled for the duration of time promised. If your company cannot deliver the goods or services, as promised, the bond is used to advertise for another firm to complete the contract. You can obtain a surety bond at 0.729% of the contract price from the SBA. The SBA can also be helpful when small businesses have difficulty in personally securing this type of coverage. Different types of bonds include:
- Bid Bond-ensures bidder will provide required bonds if the contract is awarded to them.
- Payment Bond-guarantees that subcontractors and suppliers, that work for you, are paid.
- Ancillary Bond-ensures duties spelled out in the contract are performed.
- Performance Bond-stipulates that the contract will be completed as outlined.
While the facts included above, are only a few of the basic procedures needed to begin the government contract bidding process, this can be a very lucrative move. The Internet offers everything that is needed to prepare for this new venture. What types of goods and services are contracted, types of government entities, and how your business may have an advantage, are some of the subjects discussed, that can give you an edge over competitors.
Years ago, it took months of studying thick manuals and begging to be placed on select bidder lists. Even then, only a few contracts could actually be won. Government and technology have changed and now is the right time for all entrepreneurs to look at government contracts for future growth. However, take your time, retain the necessary funds, and learn as much as you can. Shoot for 6 months to 1 year before entering this new world. Start out slow, provide the best service possible to your first government contract, and your company name will be remembered when bidding comes around in another year. After a little experience, bidding on a second contract will be a piece of cake.